Sister notes 100th with smiles aplenty - Catholic Courier

Sister notes 100th with smiles aplenty

PITTSFORD — Need a cure for the winter doldrums? A visit with Sister Teresa Clare Ehrmentraut could be just what the doctor ordered.
Sister Ehrmentraut lights up a room with her ever-present smile, and her steady stream of one-liners sparks hearty laughter among residents and employees at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse where she resides. Take, for instance, her account of her birthday observance on Nov. 18.
“I got to be 65,” Sister Ehrmentraut said with a twinkle in her eye.
 

Actually, 35 additional years are needed to arrive at the correct total: Sister Ehrmentraut turned 100 on Nov. 18. She enjoyed two celebrations at the motherhouse that day, one with family and another with friends.
 

“It was very pleasant. People are always ready for a party,” she said in regard to the large turnout.
 

Sister Ehrmentraut was born in 1906 in Rochester’s Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, and attended school there as well. She lauded the School Sisters of Notre Dame faculty of Ss. Peter and Paul, yet it was the Sisters of St. Joseph order at Nazareth Academy who most greatly influenced her vocational path.
“That was a wonderful place to be. I had many friends among the sisters,” she said of her high school.
 

Sister Ehrmentraut entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1924. After graduating from Nazareth Normal School, she was assigned to Rochester’s St. Monica School, where she taught grades 4, 5 and 7.
In 1932 she moved to the Southern Tier, beginning a 23-year tenure at the former Elmira Catholic High School. The versatile Sister Ehrmentraut taught business as well as beginning Latin “because they needed a Latin teacher.”
“I enjoyed my years in Elmira,” she said. “I enjoyed the students, and tried to make the work a pleasure. I think they enjoyed their years in the classroom. We had no troublemakers. The kids were good — all you have to do is give your best, and you get their best back.”
 

Sister Ehrmentraut delights in recalling the fire escape that was located near her classroom, and how students would ask permission to exit the school by using it. Although she never gave direct consent, she did admit to occasionally turning her head the other way — and down they’d go.
In 1955, Sister Ehrmentraut earned a master’s degree in business education from Boston University. That same year she began another lengthy assignment, this time at Nazareth College. Over a 33-year period she was secretary for two presidents, Sister Helen Daniel Malone and Dr. Alice Foley, as well as the college dean, Sister Rose Angela Noonan. She also served as the college archivist.
 

In 1988 Sister Ehrmentraut took up archivist duties at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse. She also tutored and taught typing to fellow sisters from Tanzania, as well as anyone else who wished to learn.
 

Sister Ehrmentraut currently performs prayer ministry with her congregation. She enjoys many friendships, particularly with fellow residents Sister Julia Clare Richards and Sister Catherine Teresa Martin, both of whom she knew from her days in Elmira — the former as a teacher, the latter as a student.
Sisters Richards and Martin said their centenarian friend likes to stay on the top of the news, regularly reading the daily paper. She is improving from a broken hip suffered during a fall in early 2006 and has remained in solid health otherwise. Her spirits are buoyed not only by her in-house friends, but also from several loyal and loving relatives who visit regularly.
 

Sister Ehrmentraut remarked that during her 80-plus years as a Sister of St. Joseph, she has remained open to various transitions that have arisen in her church and religious order.
 

“I had sense enough to accept them as they came. The best is to be ready for change,” she said.
 

Having a triple-figure age is a change in itself, and she has welcomed that milestone as well.
 

“I’ve had good years, and I have no complaints. It feels very good; I’ve accomplished many good things during these years,” she said.
And, more accomplishments seemingly lie ahead.
 

“I’m like old wine. I get better with age,” Sister Ehrmentraut quipped.

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